When the holidays approach, many Morehouse Parish residents will honor traditions that signal the beginning of festive events.

approach, many Morehouse Parish residents will honor traditions that signal the beginning of festive events. Cherry Ridge Baptist Church is among those who are carrying on a tradition – one in which they hold near and dear to their hearts, not only because it brings loved ones together, but because it brings joy to those who are less fortunate. Over the past 10 years, CRBC has been participating in Operation Christmas Child, a project that allows underprivileged children all over the world to have gifts at Christmas. The church collects donations year round for the project. This week they are finalizing it by packing small shoe-box-sized boxes with supplies and toys for children who have nothing. OCC began through Samaritan’s Purse, a Christian relief organization led by Rev. Franklin Graham, son of Billy Graham. Presents were first given to children in Bosnia. Over the years, the project grew and since 1993, they’ve collected more than 94 million shoe boxes. OCC hopes to collect 9 million gift-filled shoe boxes in 2012. CRBC, this area’s relay station, is doing its share to help meet the project’s goal. Church member Katherine Tubbs, along with volunteers, help to coordinate the project. “Last year we collected 756 boxes,” Tubbs said. “This year we’ve already boxed up 520.” Members of CRBC will work this week to finish loading the boxes with supplies and toys. Other churches in Morehouse Parish will also participate by packaging their own shoe boxes and bringing them to CRBC. The other churches include: Grace Church, Oak Hill, White Avenue, Antioch, Bethel, Bonita Road, Christ Episcopal, First Baptist, Light House and Fairbanks. “On Monday, the Morehouse Parish Sheriff’s Office will bring a large truck and load up all the shoe boxes,” Tubbs said. “They’ll bring them to Fairpark Baptist Church in West Monroe. From there they’ll go to [Samaritan’s Purse Headquarters in] Atlanta, Georgia.” Once they reach the headquarters, each box is individually opened and inspected. Literature about the Bible is put in each box, translated into each child’s language. Tubbs said when the boxes leave Atlanta, they go to “many countries all over the world.” “They’ll be delivered by several means of transportation,” she said. “They could go by camel, airplanes or boats.” Tubbs said the items inside the boxes will include a bath cloth, a bar of soap, a toothbrush, toothpaste, a comb, school supplies and an age-appropriate toy. “The young children will get things like a baby doll and yo yos,” she said. “The older boys will get something like a flashlight and the older girls might get a sewing kit.” Tubbs said after the holidays, the church often gets thank you letters from some of the children. “We’ve given them small notepads in the past for school,” she said. “They’ve told us how grateful they were for the notepads. After their school year ended, they would erase every page in the notebook and pass it down to another child to use.” Tubbs said one child told them she lived in an orphanage where 20 children shared one bar of soap, one bath cloth and one toothbrush. She was overjoyed to receive her very own toiletries. “We don’t know where God will deliver these boxes,” Tubbs said. “We pray over them before we send them. The Lord knows where they’re going and he knows what they need.”